AvianDiversity » A Connoisseur's Eye » Birds » Rails, Crakes and Coots » Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra - Linnaeus 1758)

Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra - Linnaeus 1758)


Very common on lakes, ponds and rivers of the Old World, the Common Coot has expanded its range to other countries and continents. This species can be seen in large flocks. Their territorial fights are famous and spectacular, with the coots running fast over the lake and raising beautiful showers of water. The Common Coot’s typical contact call is a short “kow”, “kowk”, “kup” or a sharp “kik”, or sometimes a two-notes call “kick-kowp”. These calls are rather metallic and resonant, but also explosive when the birds are excited.
During the fights, the male gives sharp “pssi” and the female a croaking “ai”. The alarm call is a sharper variant of the previous call, but the female utters rapid series of “ai-oeu” calls. These birds are noisy. The Common Coot frequents large slow-flowing waters, and prefers shallow waters but with close deeper areas for foraging. It prefers muddy bottom with fringed, emergent, submerged or floating vegetation.
The coot is usually found on lakes, ponds, pools, reservoirs, gravel-pits, canals, rivers, creeks, open marshes…
The species often breeds on seasonal marshes or temporary pools. It avoids small pools and streams and may sometimes occur on fast rivers if there is suitable vegetation.
The Common Coot requires some open water areas, but usually breeds close to the banks or from floating or emergent vegetation.